MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A disgraced NYPD cop convicted of shooting her girlfriend during a violent lover's spat told a judge Wednesday she loved her longtime partner, but fired her gun to protect herself.
"She was the love of my life," former NYPD officer Ekeythia Dunston, 34, said in an emotional statement before being sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting Erica LeGall, 44, in the chest and thigh in their Harlem apartment two years ago.
"I accept the findings of the court," added Dunston, a police officer for eight years with the 108th precinct in Queens and the niece of former New York Mets shortstop Shawon Dunston. "But I only did what I felt was right to preserve my life that night."
Dunston, who was found guilty of first-degree assault in May, argued at trial that she was acting in self-defense after LeGall smashed her head with a clothing iron.
Dunston told the judge she was "extremely remorseful" for what happened, and for the pain she caused family and friends. The court was filled with her loved ones, including her 15-year-old son, Daichoi.
"All in one night, that promise of a bright future became a dark nightmare," said Dunston.
The pair violently quarreled over a text Dunston received from an ex on Aug. 10, 2010 as LeGall's son Jayleen, 9, and Dunston's son slept in their room. The women had been together for more than 5 years.
Before sentencing Dunston — who faced up to 15 years in jail — Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Maxwell Wiley said he believed she acted "not out of self defense, but out of anger."
But, he said he didn't believe Dunston, with the support of a loving community of family and friends, would repeat such a violent act again.
"We love you," Dunston's relatives called as she was taken away in cuffs.
Dunston's lawyer, Edgar De Leon, said he hoped for less than six years, but he accepted how the court ruled.
LeGall — who also was charged with assault, but was never indicted — has filed a $10 million negligence suit against the city and the police department, said Dunston's lawyer, Edgar De Leon.
The victim was not present in court.